City settles wastewater dispute

Source: Meridian Star (MS), October 5, 2011
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The city of Meridian has reached a settlement in a litigation with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality over the operation of the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

DEQ was initially going to fine the city around $75,000 for alleged violations in the operation of the plant that occurred in 2001, but that amount was reduced to $52,500 after a closed session at Tuesday morning’s city council meeting.

City Attorney Ronnie Walton said the city will pay $26,250 directly to DEQ and, as a stipulation of the settlement, will use the other $26,250 to developing a plan for a regional utility authority.

The council followed the proper procedure for closing their meeting to the public in accordance with state law. They closed the meeting for one of the reasons allowed under the state law governing open meetings and announced the specific reason for closing multiple times.

Before closing the meeting to discuss the settlement with DEQ, the council passed an amendment to the city’s lease with Meridian Law Enforcement, LLC, an entity of the city’s development consultant Watkins Development, for the use of the new police station that is being constructed on 22nd Avenue.

The amendment reduces the initial yearly rental rate from $460,000 to $305,000 by allotting $2.1 million in police department seized funds as an advance payment on the lease, to be paid after the police department occupies the building.

City Attorney Ronnie Walton said the council also had a “marked up” version of the lease that included some other changes, and that the “marked up” version would be included in the council’s order to amend the lease. The “marked up” lease was not immediately available after a request for a copy was made.

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